If you’re new to the BBQ community, then you may have never heard of the ‘brisket stall’ or a ‘barbecue stall’.
It refers to the stage during smoking or grilling where you’ll find that the internal temperature of your piece of meat no longer rises.
Instead, you may notice that it either remains constant or declines.
This phenomenon frequently causes problems for barbeque cooks! This is mainly because it can continue for hours and cause considerable worry.
However, there’s no need to be concerned about the stall.
Below you’ll find the best way to beat it and turn out an EPIC meal!
What Is the ‘Brisket Stall’?
The ‘brisket stall’ is a phenomenon that occurs around halfway through a brisket smoking session.
It is an event in which the temperature of the meat seems to suddenly halt and refuse to rise.
It usually happens when the internal temperature of the meat reaches somewhere around 150 ℉ to 170 ℉.
As you can expect, this can invoke some serious anxiety and frustration from first-time BBQ cooks.
This is mainly because the target temperature for brisket is 204 ℉. However, it gets worse because this pause period can last for several hours.
Nothing’s worse than inviting a group of friends over just to have them wait through a painfully long brisket stall.
Does Anyone Know What Causes It?
There is a lot of speculation as to why the stall happens.
Some pitmasters believe that protein denaturing is the reason why the internal meat temperature ceases to rise. This process takes place when the beef fat begins to render and the chain molecules begin to break apart.
Others suggest that gelatin formation is to blame. This is when the collagen in the fat combines with the moisture in the meat, the cooking process is slowed.
The final verdict? These two assumptions aren’t completely false. But they’re also not the main thing responsible for the dreaded brisket stall.
The Real Reason Is Actually Evaporative Cooling.
Meat has quite a high water content, a piece of beef consists of at least 60% water.
During the cooking process, the meat will begin to sweat. As the meat contracts, it pushes the moisture in the meat to the surface.
This moisture can then evaporate and cool the surface temperature of the meat as well as the ambient temperature of the smoker or grill.
But Are There Any Other Variables Responsible for This Too?
Other variables that may add to the stall would include:
• The amount of surface area exposed to the heat source
• The components in the brisket rub used
• The type of smoker (Electric smoker, pellet smoker, propane smoker, traditional offset smoker, etc.)
• The cut of meat
• The overall size of the beef brisket
How Do You Overcome This Stall While You’re Smoking Brisket?
While it’s natural to panic at the first sign of trouble, do try your best not to. There’s nothing wrong with your smoker. So please resist the urge to raise the smoker temperature more than is necessary.
The most important thing you can do during the stall is to be patient and wait it out.
But, of course, not everyone has the time to wait for the extra moisture to finish evaporating. So what can you do if you can’t wait it out?
Here are a few ideas:
Increase the Temp
We know we told you not to panic and change the temperature of the smoker right away.
However, increasing the heat from 225°F to 300°F will shorten the time of the stall slightly. This works better with smaller slices of beef.
We would recommend this only if you’ve decided not to cook a whole brisket.
Note: If you are really short on time you can finish the brisket in the oven.
Forget the BBQ Sauce
Using a sauce means you’re adding liquid to the meat. Because this will contribute more moisture, you will only lengthen the stall period.
As a result, it’s advisable to leave it out. You can always apply the sauce after the meat has finished cooking.
With this in mind, you should also avoid using any water pans. Just remember that more liquid implies a longer stall.
Buy a Good Meat Thermometer
It is vital to constantly monitor the temperature of your meat. Hence, you will definitely need to invest in a good digital thermometer or digital temperature probe. Make sure you always probe your brisket in the thickest part, which is usually the flat.
Don’t skimp on the quality because you want to always make sure that your device is showing you the correct temperature readings of your meat.
Ever Heard of the ‘Texas Crutch’ Method?
The Texas Crutch method is the most effective way to prevent evaporative cooling from happening. So how does this method work?
Well, it involves wrapping your brisket with aluminum foil. You should only wrap your brisket in foil when the beef’s internal meat temperature reads 150 degrees Fahrenheit on your meat thermometer.
The aluminum foil will then prevent the water from evaporating and cooling the surface.
With this, you’re not only preventing any moisture loss from happening. But you’ll also effectively stop the stall from continuing any longer.
In the end, the Texas crutch works to enhance the cooking process and speed up your overall cooking time.
Will I Still Have Crispy Bark if I Use the Texas Crutch Brisket Method?
Yes and no.
As you would suspect, keeping all of that moisture locked in will mean that your brisket won’t dry out enough for that nice crispy bark to form. However, there is a way to overcome this dilemma.
The target temperature for brisket is 204°F. So if you want your brisket to have that nice crusty bark then you should remove the foil when your meat records a temperature of 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
This will then give your piece of beef enough time to finish cooking and lose some of that moisture.
So, now that you know what causes the stall and how to prevent it, there’s nothing to fear about the dreaded stall.
Just remember not to panic, and plan your cook so you have plenty of time! May pitmasters get up at 2 am to get the meat on.
Now that is dedication!
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
Hungry For More?